Long Weekend in Greenville, South Carolina- An Unexpected Surprise

Once things started opening back up during the COVID-19 crisis and it became clear that South Carolina was a safe choice to visit, I wanted to plan a road trip from North Carolina for a long weekend getaway. I’ve been to Charleston, South Carolina and all along the coast many times but I hadn’t been to many places inland. I had heard good things about Greenville so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do some exploring.

Greenville, South Carolina is on the northwestern corner of the state, about an hour from Asheville, North Carolina or 2 1/2 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s only the sixth- largest city in the state with almost 71,000 people, but there is plenty to do especially for a city of its size.

I knew we wanted to do as much hiking as possible, because that’s what we enjoy doing on vacation. On our first day, I knew we wouldn’t have much time for hiking, though, so a visit to Lake Conestee Nature Preserve was perfect. The Preserve is 400 acres on the Reedy River 6 miles south of downtown Greenville. There are both an evergreen forest and hardwood forest, wetlands, and wildlife from deer, raccoon, beaver, fox, river otter, and hundreds of bird species. Unfortunately, only paved trails were open due to the pandemic, but we were still able to spend a couple of hours walking around in the peaceful setting.

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Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

We arranged to spend the entire next day at Paris Mountain State Park, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Greenville. There is an admission fee for entry of $6 for adults and $3.50 for children. Tent or RV camp sites are available and there is a designated swimming area. However, we were there for the trails and there are 15 miles of hiking trails in the park.

We decided to hike the Sulphur Springs Trail first. It’s 3.6 miles and is labeled strenuous. There are several steep sections, deep ravines and running streams lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron. We saw a few waterfalls and came to a large dam. Since we like to pick up lunch at a grocery store and eat along the trails when we hike, this saved us time of not having to leave the park for lunch and re-enter, plus we had a nice view while we ate. Before the day was over, we also hiked several other trails including Lake Placid Trail, Mountain Creek Trail, and Turtle Trail. You can find all of the information on trails in the park here.

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Our third day was reserved for the Falls Park on the Reedy area. My daughter and I ran along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, an incredible greenway system consisting of 22 miles of paved trails along the Reedy River on a historic rail bed. We absolutely loved running here- there were trees and flowers everywhere and so many choices of directions to run (or biking is also a popular option). This was my unexpected surprise; I knew we would spend some time on the Swamp Rabbit Trail but I had no idea it’s as extensive as it is nor as absolutely beautiful as it is.

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The Swamp Rabbit Trail (just a tiny fraction of it)

After a 6 mile run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, we met back up with my husband and the three of us went to breakfast at a unique and tasty place, Coffee Underground. With our bellies filled, we walked around Falls Park on the Reedy and explored around there. You can hear the rushing falls as you walk around the numerous gardens and over Liberty Bridge, a suspension bridge built as a work of art.

Shops and restaurants are all within walking distance of the falls. There are no shortage of art galleries and one of our favorites is Open Art Studios, where we bought a small painting. They have a diverse collection of art at affordable prices. In fact, we enjoyed the Falls Park on the Reedy area so much we decided to go back on our fourth and final day in Greenville. On that return trip, we came upon a small arboretum and more gardens we hadn’t seen before. We also had a filling breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company, which is near the falls.

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Falls Park on the Reedy

A final place I’d like to mention is The Commons, a 12,000 square-foot food hall with open dining, outdoor seating, and is right by the Swamp Rabbit Trail. For food, you can choose from Automatic Taco, Bake Room, The Community Tap, GB & D (Golden Brown & Delicioius), and Methodical Coffee. We picked up some freshly baked goods from Bake Room, some beers from The Community Tap, and a kombucha from GB & D and sat outside with our dogs and enjoyed the beautiful day. There are also a couple of shops, Carolina Triathlon for people who like to run, bike, and/or swim and Billiam, a custom-designed denim shop.

Greenville, South Carolina may not be a top vacation spot for many people but I found it to be even better than I expected. It’s a place I highly recommend spending a long weekend in if you’re ever in the general area and are up for a road trip. Greenville has so many different places to hike, bike, run, walk, eat, and shop, I feel it has something for everyone.

Have you been to Greenville, South Carolina? Never heard of it but are intrigued?

Happy travels!

Donna

 

 

 

Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

27 thoughts on “Long Weekend in Greenville, South Carolina- An Unexpected Surprise”

      1. Never heard of it, but now I’m super intrigued. Sounds like a food and running heaven!! My brother and his fiance may end up moving to North or South Carolina, so I’m sure Greenville will be a top destination these next few years!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There are so many fun places to visit in North and South Carolina and Greenville, SC isn’t usually at the top of many of the “must visit” lists out there. To me, it’s a hidden gem and somewhere I definitely recommend checking out.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been to Greenville, twice. My NY-based employer had a facility there, and one of my trips was to see if I was willing to relocate there. I wasn’t willing, but I liked it much better than expected. A really good selection of restaurants for a town its size. I didn’t do any hiking, but it sounds nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Appreciate The Community Tap mention! A year from now, The Commons will sit in the middle of Unity Park, which is currently under construction. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for your review! Greenville is actually one of the (many) places we’ve discussed retiring to. Only problem? We’ve never been to North OR South Carolina! This does sound like my kind of place (wonder what the cost of living is like).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe the cost of living in South Carolina in general is pretty low, although not so much on the coast and especially in the Charleston area. Since Greenville is further inland, I know property taxes would at least be lower than on the coast.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, we definitely wouldn’t do the coast — hurricanes, you know. But my understanding was Greenville was kinda midway between the coast & mountains, so you could get to either.

        Although it’s probably way too hot & humid in the summer for us, in reality. As much as we loved TX, that wore on us after 17 years (and is why we’re not planning to retire there anymore, although we truly thought we would for a long time).

        The cost of living in the south in general is much cheaper than up here!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Greenville is much closer to the mountains than the coast (about 3 hours from the coast but only about an hour to the heart of the mountains). It is hot and humid during the summer but you could always escape to the mountains during the worst of it in July and August.
          You’re right, the south is definitely cheaper than the northeast in general.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful place! That Swamp Rabbit Trail looks like a wonderful place to go for a run with your daughter. I have never been to Greenville, but it might be a good alternative to Asheville the next time we travel down that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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